“We are not our own, therefore we ought not to live to ourselves, but to God, whose we are.”
“Self-knowledge is the mother of humility.”
“‘Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed,’ James 1:14. Temptation were no temptation, if our hearts were not wicked hearts. Nay, many of us are ready to tempt temptations, to provoke the devil to temptations; we cast ourselves open to temptations. Temptations find lust within, and lust within is the mother to conceive sin, if temptation be the father. Times do not bring evils along with them, they do but discover what was hid before. All the evils and corruptions you now see among us, where were they in the day of our first love, when we were as a loving and beloved child? Have all these risen up of late? No certainly, all that you have seen and found were before, though they did not appear; before they were in the root, now you see the fruit. All the apostasy and profanity that hath been vented in these days, was all shut up within the corners of men’s hearts at the beginning. Time and temptation hath but uncovered the heart, and made the inside out, hath but opened a sluice to let out this sea of corruption. It is not bred since, but seen since.”
“I beseech you consider, that what you give your time, pains, thoughts and affections to, that is your God. You must give God all your heart, and so retain nothing of your own will if God be your God. But do you not know that your care and grief and desire and love vents another way, towards base things? You know that you have a will of your own which goes quite contrary to His holy will in all things, therefore Satan has bewitched you and your hearts deceive you, when they persuade you that you have had no other God but the true God. Christianity raises the soul again, and advances it by degrees to this love of God, from which it had fallen.”
“Let others be wise to their own destruction – let them establish their own imaginations for the Word of God and rule of their faith – but you hold fast what you have received and ‘contend earnestly for it’. Add nothing, and diminish nothing; let this lamp shine ’till the day dawn,’ ’till the morning of the resurrection,’ and walk in the light of it and do not kindle any other sparkles, else you shall lie down in the grave in sorrow and rise in sorrow. Take the Word of God as the only rule, and the perfect rule – a rule for all your actions, civil, natural, and religious, for all must be done to his glory, and his Word teaches how to attain to that end. Let not your imaginations, let not others example, let not the preaching of men, let not the conclusions and acts of Assemblies be your rule, but inasmuch as you find them agreeing with the perfect rule of God’s Holy Word. All other rules are ‘regulae regulatae,’ they are but like publications and intimations of the rule itself. Ordinances of assemblies are but like the herald promulgation of the king’s statute and law, if it varies in anything from his intention, it is not valid and binding. I beseech you, take the Scriptures for the rule of your walking or else you will wander; the Scripture is ‘regula regulans,’ a ruling rule. If you be not acquainted with it, you must follow the opinions or examples of other men, and what if they lead you unto destruction?”
“Alas, it may be said of the most part of professed Christians among us, that they are not built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but upon the sayings of fallible and weak men! What ground have many of you for your faith, but because the minister saith so, you believe so? The most part live in an implicit faith and practice that in themselves which they condemn in the papists. You do not labor to ‘search the Scriptures’ that upon that foundation you may build your faith in the questioned truths of this age, that so you may be able to answer those that ask a reason of the faith that is in you.
Alas! Simple souls [Proverbs 14:15], you believe everything and yet really believe nothing, because you believe not the Word, as the Word of the living God, but take it from men upon their authority! Therefore when a temptation comes from any gainsaying of the truth, you cannot stand against it because your faith has no foundation but the sayings of men or acts of assemblies. And therefore, as men whom you trust with holding out light unto you, hold out darkness instead of light, you embrace that darkness also.
But, I beseech you, be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, not upon them, but upon that whereon they were built, the infallible truths of God. You have the Scriptures, search them; since you have reasonable souls, search them. Other men’s faith will not save; you cannot see to walk to heaven by other men’s light any more than you can see by their eyes. You have eyes of your own, souls of your own, subordinate to none but the God of spirits and the Lord of consciences, Jesus Christ; and therefore, examine all that is spoken to you from the Word, according to the Word, and receive no more upon trust from men but as you find it upon trial to be the truth of God.”
“That Word is the immortal seed they are begotten of and there is a natural instinct to love that and to meditate in it, such an inclination to it, as in newborn babes to the breast, so the children of God do desire the sincere milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby, as they were born of it, 1 Peter 2:2. In those Scriptures, which we read in your audience, you have something of their excellence and our duty. There is a rich jewel in them, a precious pearl in that field, even Jesus Christ and in Him eternal life; and therefore we ought to search the Scriptures for this jewel, to dig in the field for this pearl, the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, as a sure foundation whereupon souls may build their eternal felicity and the hope of it. Jesus Christ is the very chief stone in that foundation, whereupon the weight of all the saints and all their hope hangs. And therefore we ought to lean the weight of our souls only on this truth of God and build our faith only upon it, and square our practice only by it.”
“O! that ye would read [the Scriptures] more often, and ponder them better, how there is nothing in this world, which may seem to fall out by chance to you, that you know not how it is to come to pass, and can see no cause nor reason of it; but it falls out by the holy will of our blessed Father. Be it of greater or less moment, or be it a hair of thy head fallen, or thy head cut off. The most casual and contingent thing, though it surprised the whole world of men and angels, that they wonder from whence it did proceed, it is no surprise to Him; for He not only knew it, but appointed it. The most certain and necessary thing, according to the course of nature, it hath no certainty but from his appointment, who hath established such a course in the creatures, and which He can suspend when He pleases. Be it the sin of men and devils which seems most opposite to His holiness, yet even that cannot appear in the world of beings, if it were not, in a holy righteous, and permissive way first conceived in the womb of His eternal counsel, and if it were not determined by Him, for holy and just ends, Acts 4:28.”
“There is much weakness in our conceiving of divine things. We shape and form them in our minds according to a mold of our own experience or invention, and cannot conceive of them as they are in themselves. If we should speak properly, there are not counsels and purposes in God, but one entire counsel and resolution concerning all things which are in time, by which he hath disposed all in their several times, seasons, conditions, and orders. But because we have many thoughts, about many things, so we cannot well conceive of God but in likeness to ourselves, and therefore, the Scripture, condescending to our weakness, speaks so. ‘How many are thy precious thoughts towards me,’ saith David, and yet indeed, there is but one thought of him and us and all, which one thought is of so much virtue, that it is equivalent to an infinite number of thoughts concerning infinite objects. The Lord has from everlasting conceived one purpose of manifesting his own glory in such several ways and this is the head spring of all that befalls creatures, men, and angels. But because, in the execution of this purpose there is a certain order and succession, and variety, therefore men do ordinarily fancy such or such a frame and order in the Lord’s mind and purpose.”
“Here is a compendious [direct] way to glorify God. Receive salvation of Him freely, righteousness and eternal life, this sets to a seal to God’s truth and grace and mercy, and whoso counts the Son worthy to be a Savior to them, and sets to their seal of approbation to him whom God the Father hath sent and sealed, he also honors the Father, and then he that honors the Father, has it not for nothing, “for them that honor Me I will honor,” (1 Samuel 2:30), says the Lord, and “He that serves Me, him will my Father honor,” (John 12:26). As the believing soul cares for no other, and respects no other but God, so He respects no other but such a soul. “I will dwell in the humble, and look unto the contrite,” there are mutual respects and honors. God is the delight of such a soul, and such a soul is God’s delight. That soul sets God in a high place, in a throne in his heart, and God sets that soul in a heavenly place with Christ, (Ephesians 2:6), yea He comes down to sit with us and dwells in us, off His throne of majesty, (Isaiah 66:1-2, and 57:15).”
“Here is the sum of religion. Here you have a compend of the doctrine of the Scriptures. All divine truths may be reduced to these two heads: faith and love; what we ought to believe and what we ought to do. This is all the Scriptures teach and this is all we have to learn. What have we to know but what God has revealed of Himself to us? And what have we to do, but what He commands us? In a word, what have we to learn in this world, but to believe in Christ and love Him, and so, live to Him? This is the duty of man, and this is the dignity of man, and the way to eternal life. Therefore the Scriptures, that are given to be “a lamp to our feet, and a guide to our paths,” contain a perfect and exact rule – ‘credendorum et faciendorum’ – of faith and manners, of doctrine and practice. We have in the Scriptures many truths revealed to us of God and of the works of His hands, many precious truths, but that which most of all concerns us is to know God and ourselves.”
“The Scriptures are the touchstone—if you would not have a counterfeit religion deceiving you in the end, when you have trusted to it, I pray you to test yours by the Word of God. Oh, that this principle was sunk into your hearts! I would not walk at random. If I please myself and satisfy my own will and it is not also God’s will, I will have neither gain nor comfort by it. His will is manifested in his Word—I will search and find out what God has required of me. For, if I am not certain of his will, I may labor all my days and sweat out my life, and yet still lose all my pains and toil.”
“There is a great mistake about faith among us, some taking faith for a strong and blind confidence that admits of no questions or doubts in the soul and so vainly persuading themselves that they have it, and some again conceiving it to be such an assurance of salvation as instantly comforts the soul and looses all objections, and so, foolishly vexing their own souls and disquieting themselves in vain, for the want of that which, if they understood what it is, they would find they have it. I say, many souls conceive that to be the best faith that never doubted and has always lodged in them and kept them in peace since they were born. But, seeing all men were once “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenant of promise, and without God in the world,” and so without Christ also, it is certain that those souls who have always blessed themselves in their own hearts and cried, “Peace, peace,” and were never afraid of the wrath to come, have embraced only the imagination and dream of their own heart for true faith. It is not big and stout words that will prove it. Men may defy the devil and all his works and speak very confidently, and yet, God knows, they are captives by him at his pleasure, and not far from that misery which they think they have escaped. Satan works in them with such a crafty conveyance that they cannot perceive it. And how should they perceive it? For we are “by nature dead in sins,” and so cannot feel or know that we are such. It is a token of life to feel pain, a certain token, for dead things are senseless. You know how jugglers may deceive your very senses and make them believe they see that which is not and feel that which they feel not. Oh! How much more easy is it for Satan, such an ingenious and experienced spirit, assisted with the help of our deceitful hearts, to cast such a mist over the eyes of our hearts and make them believe anything! How easily may he hide our misery from us, and make us believe it is well with us! And thus multitudes of souls perish in the very opinion of salvation. That very thing which they call faith – that strong ungrounded persuasion, is no other thing than the unbelief of the heart, unbelief, I mean, of the holy law, of divine justice, and the wrath to come, for if these once entered into the soul’s consideration, they would certainly cast down that stronghold of vain confidence that Satan keeps all the house in peace by. Now this secure and presumptuous despising of all threatenings and all convictions, is varnished over to the poor soul with the color and appearance of faith in the Gospel. They think, to believe in Christ is nothing else but never to be afraid of hell, whereas it is nothing else but a soul fleeing unto Christ for fear of hell and fleeing from the wrath to come to the city of refuge.”
“You may – if your conscience urges you to despair and to conclude there is no hope, you may, I say, appeal from your conscience, from Satan, and from justice, unto Jesus Christ, who is holding out the scepter to you. The Minister calls you – rise and come, and stand no longer before that bar, for it is a subordinate judicatory and there is a way to redress you by a higher court of grace. You may say to justice, to Satan, to your own conscience – ‘It is true, I confess, that I deserve that sentence, I am guilty, and can say nothing against it, while I stand alone. But though I cannot satisfy (justice), and have nothing; yet there is one, Jesus Christ, who gave his life a ransom for many, and whom God has given as a propitiation for sins. He has satisfied and paid the debt in my name.'”